Thursday, August 4, 2011

Poppy-Seed Danishes with Cherry-Neufchâtel Filling

I just got back from the Northwest in all of its beauty, and cherries. Bing and Rainier cherries were everywhere by the cheap, so I snagged some lovely cherry preserves at a fruit stand near Mt. Hood. On my multi-stop plane ride back from Seattle to Tucson I did a dangerous thing: I read five cooking magazines full of recipes (many, many more posts are on the way!). This recipe, which makes use of my cherry preserves, was featured in Martha Stewart Living.

I'm a sucker for breakfast pastries... and all pastries... but especially danishes, sticky buns, and cinnamon rolls. They are sweet, savory, fruity, and filling all in one bite. With this recipe, it was clear that my cherry preserves would be used for a greater good.

The danish dough is fool proof and could easily be used for all sorts of breakfast pastries. However, this specific combination of cheese, cherry, and poppy-seed is well worth simply sticking to the recipe, and the danishes resemble beautiful poppy flowers (of the buttery variety...).

And in case you're wondering what the heck Neufchâtel cheese is, it's that cheese that looks and tastes exactly like cream cheese, located right next to the cream cheese in your grocery store. The only advantage is that is has less fast without losing flavor, so any kind of cream cheese will do, but maybe you might like something new, too!

This recipe came through for me and my cherry preserves, making breakfast all the more delicious. I hope Martha's creation can do the same for you.

Poppy-Seed Danishes with Cherry-Neufchâtel Filling
adapted from Martha Stewart

yields 9 danishes

Danish Dough
1 cup whole milk
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces, plus more for bowl
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons (one 1/4-ounce envelope) active dry yeast
3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface and hands
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon heavy cream, for egg wash

8 ounces Neufchâtel cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
1/3 cup cherry preserves

1 cup confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons milk or cream

First, make the danish dough. Warm milk, butter, and granulated sugar in a small saucepan over a low heat until mixture reaches 120 degrees on a candy thermometer. (Butter will not melt completely.) Pour warm milk mixture over yeast in the bowl of a mixer; whisk to combine. Cover with 2 cups flour and 1 teaspoon salt (do not stir). Let stand for 5 minutes.

Using the dough-hook attachment (I don't have a stand mixer - donations welcome :) - so I did the following all by hand), mix dough on medium speed, scraping down sides of bowl, until a sticky dough forms. Mix in eggs, 1 at a time. Reduce speed to low, and mix in 1 1/2 cups flour. (If dough is too sticky, mix in an additional 1/2 cup flour, 1 tablespoon at a time.) Continue to mix until dough is smooth and pulls away from sides of bowl, about 5 minutes more.

Using floured hands, turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead dough into a ball, and transfer to a large buttered bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and let stand in a warm place until dough is doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

Return dough to lightly floured surface, and punch down. Reshape into a ball. Let stand, covered, for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the filling. Beat Neufchâtel cheese, confectioners' sugar, and vanilla with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in egg yolk. Add poppy seeds, and beat until evenly distributed.

Preheat oven to 375 F. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface into a 16-inch square. Trim edges using a sharp paring knife to form a 15-inch square. (If dough seems too warm or too elastic, refrigerate or freeze for 10 minutes.) Cut dough into nine 5-inch squares, and divide between 2 baking sheets.

Cut a 2-inch line from the 4 corners of each square into the center. Spread a heaping tablespoon filling onto each. Dollop centers with a heaping teaspoon preserves. Fold the 2 top corners into the center of each square. Repeat with remaining corners to form petals. Brush petals with egg wash. Bake until deep golden brown, 16 to 18 minutes. Let cool slightly.

Meanwhile, make the glaze. Mix together confectioners' sugar and milk until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap until ready to use. (If glaze gets stiff, add more milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until desired consistency is achieved.)

Drizzle Danishes with glaze, and let stand for 10 minutes.

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  1. these look so delicious! i'm going to make mine with homemade raspberry preserves!

  2. whoa! these look amazing...esp. that photo of them on the silpat!

  3. @ Sysha - that sounds wonderful! hope they turn out well!

    @ Jennifer - thank you :)


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